« 上一頁繼續 »
without a stealing tear, without the current of warm emotion thrilling faster round his heart, may value himself on the superiority of his understanding, but must, I am free to say, be deficient in sensibility. Yet Gamaliel Smith sees nothing in it but marks of imposture, and treats it with ridicule and blasphemy. He says
that the Apostle concealed his object in coming to Jerusalem at this time with the most persevering anxiety; and he undertakes to bring it to light, having found it to be, “ the common object of political concupisence, money, power, and vengeance. These were all before his eyes; money, in no less a quantity than that of the aggregate mass of the property of the whole church-power, that which was exercised by the direction of the consciences of the whole number of the faithful--vengeance, for the repeated rebuffs by which his endeavours to supplant the Apostles had been repelled. In a general point of view, ambition,--rival ambition, the same motive which sent Cæsar to Rome ---may be stated as having sent Paul at this time to Jerusalem, the metropolis of the Christian world, by design ; and thence eventually and undesignedly to the metropolis of the whole civilized world. By two opposite desires, two antagonizing but correspondent and mutually explanatory desires-desires on both parts intense and active, the external marks of which are sufficiently visible in two different quarters; the nature as well as prevalence of this motive will, it is believed, be found sufficiently proved ;-a desire in the breast of the self-constituted Apostle, to establish himself in the original metropolis of the Christian world ;a desire on the part of the Apostles-of the Apostles, constituted by Jesus, to keep him out of it.” pp. 210, 211.
Here • amaliel undertakes to prove that the Apostles, being hostile to Paul in their hearts, and afraid lest he should strip them of their power, betrayed him to the commission of an atrocious crime, for no other end than to get rid of him, by holding him forth as a villain.
Offensive as his words are, I must bere be at the trouble of quoting them. A certain charge was brought against Paul by, his enemies in Jerusalem, and his brethren felt it necessary that he should exculpate himself. For this clearance a ceremony was prescribed to him ; a ceremony the effect of which was, to declare, in a manner beyond all comparison more solemn and deliberate, than any other thing which is commonly understood by the word oath-that he had not done any thing of that, which he stood charged with having done, and which it could not but be generally known that he had done. .... No course was so rash, that Paul would shrink from it; no ceremony so awful, or so public, that Paul would fear to profane it. Of the asseveration, to which he was called upon to give, in an extraordinary form, the sanction of an oath, the purport was universally notorious : the falsity, no less so; the ceremony on which the powers of sacerdotal ingenuity had been exhausted, in the endeavour to render it efficaciously impressive. Place of performance the most sacred among the sacred: act of entrance, universally public ; purpose universally notorious ; operations, whatever they were, inscrutably concealed from vulgar eyes : person of the principal actor occasionally visible, but at an awful elevation: time requisite for accomplishment (Acts xxi, 27) not less than seven days : the whole ceremony effectually secured against frequent profanation by “charges” too heavy, to be borne by the united power of four ordinary purses. With all the ingredients of the inost finished perjury, in his breast; perfect consciousness, fixed intentionality, premeditated perseverance, and full view of the sanction about to be violated, we shall see him entering upon the task, and persevering in it.”
Let us then see him entering Jerusalem, and we shall immediately see, not that the great and illustrious Apostle of the Gentiles is an atrocious villain, but that Gamaliel Smith is an atrocious slanderer. The account
of the affair is thus given by Luke : “And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us with gladness. ''And the day following Paul went in with us to James : and all the elders were present. And when he had greeted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord God, and said unto Paul Thou seest, brother, how many ten thousands of Jews there are who believe; and they are all zealous of the law. And they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews that are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses ; saying
that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor to walk according to our customs. What then inust be done ? the multitude must by all means assemble, for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore what we say to thee : we have four men that have a vow upon them: Join them, and purify thyself with them, and share in their expenses, that they may shave their heads, and all may know, that those things of which they are informed are in nought true, but that thou thyself also walkest in the observance of the law. And as to the Gentiles who believe, we have already sent them our determination, that they should practise no such thing, but that they only keep themselves from what is offered to'idols, and from blood and from things strangled, and from fornication."
The Apostle in every place stated, that it was neces"sary for the Gentiles to repent and reform, in order to partake in the blessings of the Gospel, but that it was not necessary to conform to the institutions of Moses, to obtain the same happy end. This was his doctrine to the Gentiles : but to the Jews resident in heathen countries, he preached a different cioctrine in regard to the ceremonial law. Being inured to the Levitical code by education and habit, they were at liberty to continue in the observance of it, provided they did not rest on
that observance to the exclusion of piety and virtue as the means of acceptance with God: Nay, he went further, and insisted that every individual after receiving the Gospel should occupy the same post, sustain the same character, which he filled before his conversion. The object of this wise injunction is obvious, it was to prevent the Gospel from being vilified as the cause of introducing disputes and changes in society, which it would be more to the interest of the new religion and its reforming influence to avoid. I am not ascribing measures to the Apostle Paul which he did not himself inculcate. His own language is express and distinct on the subject : "Let every one so walk as the Lord has
ed him, and this I appoint in all the churches. Hath any man been called who is circumcised ? let him not become uncircumcised. Hath any been called in uncircumcision ? let him not become circumcised: circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God—that is every thing." 1 Cor. vii. 17, 18. Paul himself illustrates this theory by his conduct towards Timothy and Titus, The former, being of Jewish extraction, he caused to be circumcised; the latter being a Greek, he refused to be circumcised, though at Jerusalem and in the face of the Judaizing zealots.
The wise distinction which the Apostle thus made and steadily pursued, caused great embarrassment to his enemies; and nothing was left to them bụt to spread a report among the populace, that he preached against Moses, and that, so far from imposing his law on the Gentiles, he sought the abolition of it among his count trymen. This is the very report of which James apprized the Apostle Paul; and which he advised him to contradict by submitting to a vow which might show that, so far from seeking to set aside the law of Moses in others, he preserved it in himself. Nothing is more manifest than that this advice, given ou the part of
James and the elders, was given in the spirit of perfect sincerity. They received him on his arrival with gladness, or, as the word (cousvws) implies, with cordiality : when they heard the success of his preaching among the Gentiles, they praised God, and they entertained an affectionate wish to deliver him from his false accusers. Paul felt the propriety of the advice, and as the charge was altogether unfounded, he hesitated not a moment to comply with it.
Gamaliel says that the proposed vow was a solemn oath : had it been so, Paul could have taken it most conscientiously; because what he was called upon to swear, was perfectly true. But what, according to his accuser, was the object of this oath ? It was that Paul did not preach to the Gentiles a gospel, which by moral obedience gave them exemption from ritual observances. Paul then took this oath ; and Gamaliel examines the Acts and his Epistles, and from these proves him guilty of the most aggravated perjury, see chap. xi. sect. 1, 2. In truth, it was universally known that the Apostle taught the Gentiles a gospel which superseded the necessity of circumcision : this, I say, was a fact of such notoriety, that to deny it was impossible; and if he had the effrontery to attempt its denial, he would have added folly to falsehood, in no instance ever equalled, excepting by the author of " Not Paul but Jesus.”
A vow as made by the Pagans, was a very different thing from that which was made by the disciples of Moses. In a heathen sense, a vow meant a solemn promise of some offering to one of the gods, in case he should bestow a favour that was asked of him. Thus Cicero tells us in his first book De Divinatione, that “ A. Navius, having lost one of his sows, made a vow, that if he found her he would offer the largest grape on his vine to Bacchus; accordingly, having found her, he stood in the midst of his vine, with his face to the meridian, and divided the vine with his staff into four parts,